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White House Official Denounces Execution of Habib Elkanian

May 14, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A White House official has denounced the executions in Iran, specifically that of Habib Elkanian, the former leader of the Iranian Jewish community, and said that the Carter Administration “is shacked and saddened by the executions” and that “on a number of occasions has made its strong views known to the Iran government.

Edward Sanders, President Carter’s chief liaison with the American Jewish community, made this statement in an address to the American Jewish Committee’s 73rd annual meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. He declared that the executions in Iran, which have claimed some 200 victims since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took power last February, “violate principles of due process and human rights to which we are absolutely dedicated.”

There are, Sanders continued, “universal standards of humanity and decency from which no person — no government — is exempt. The new government of Iran has given the United States numerous assurances about protecting the rights of minorities and we look to them to stand by these assurances. The horror of the series of summary executions in Iran was underscored (last Wednesday) by the execution of Mr. Elkanian … Lased on his support of Israel. The Administration will continue to take every appropriate step to explore every avenue to promote justice and human rights in Iran.”

Sanders statement followed one made by State Department spokesman Hodding Carter that while “The implications” of Elkanian’s execution “are disturbing, the press reports indicate that Elkanian was tried as an individual and not as a leader of the Jewish community.” The State Department has con- tinued to odhere to this view. However, when another Department spokesman, Tom Reston, was asked last Friday, a day after Sanders made his statement, which view represented the Carter Administration’s position, Reston said, “Both.”


Meanwhile, reverberations from the execution of Elkanian continued over the weekend. In New York City, more than 1100 people attended a memorial service for the slain Jewish leader at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun which was convened last Friday by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Sen. Jacob Javits (R.NY), one of the speakers at the memorial, called for economic sanctions against Iran in the face of these “wanton killings.” He said that while the U.S. cannot send troops, it can put on pressure by reducing use of Iranian oil and boycotting Iranian products. Javits said that the ratification of the Genocide Treaty by the Senate would be a fitting memorial.

Elkanian, 61, who was a leading businessman, was executed along with six other Iranians a few hours after they were convicted by a so-called “revolutionary people’s court.” Elkanian, the first known Jew to be executed since Khomeini look power, was accused of “corruption, spreading vice on earth, treason through his connections with Israel and Zionism.”

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency Executives, told the memorial meeting that Elkanian was a “wonderful Jew” who was “murdered for loving the Jewish people. If this is a crime, all Jews could be similarly charged. The recent actions in Iran should be a warning to every man of good faith.”

Dulzin declared that unlike the Holocaust, Jews are not helpless any more. He warned “the murderers of Iran” that “we can reach them if they do not stop these actions.” The Zionist leader referred to Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s statement in the Knesset last Wednesday where he urged world public opinion not to be silent about the “murderous acts of the bloodthirsty regime of Khomeini.” To the Jewish community in Iran, Dulzin said: “Be strong and know that we are with you. We won’t let you down. from here in New Yo

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